Hybrid Workplaces: Fad or Future?

As the new year gets underway, organizations are looking beyond the challenges, volatility and reactive mode of the past few years and strategically planning their future to compete and thrive. Two topics that are top of mind are where work gets done and the related impact on office real estate investments and the role of the office going forward.

While there is no one size fits all and each leader and worker have their point of view, it’s often helpful to get a data-driven perspective to understand the bigger picture and to guide the way to proactive decisions best suited for each organization.

Aruba is a leader in delivering best-in-class modern workplaces and technology. To remain at the forefront, Aruba works on thought leadership and research to help our customers stay ahead.

With that mindset, Aruba teamed up with Leesman, a leader in measuring the quality and effectiveness of workplaces, to deep dive into extensive survey responses from recent surveys of approximately 125 corporate real estate and 75,000 worker and manager respondents as well as historical surveys of approximately 7,000 organizations and 1,000,000 respondents.

We’re delighted that Aruba and Leesman are widely sharing the results of this research via an eBook titled “Powering Hybrid Work 2023” and the full research report titled “The Future of Work and the Workplace: Insights from Leesman Global Survey.”

At a time when there are major shifts happening with work, workplaces, and technology, it’s sometimes difficult to discern what is a fad or the beginning of a trend. To set your organization on the best path into the future, here are a few key findings and insights from the research for your consideration.

The future of work is hybrid.

For corporate real estate respondent organizations that made a decision about where employees will be working in the future, the vast majority of 93% decided on a hybrid workplace strategy. While the percentage of time working in the office vs. mobile varies across regions, business sectors, ages, etc., it’s clear from the survey results that hybrid work is here to stay.

Corporate real estate investments are changing.

Real estate and workplace investments are aligning with the hybrid work strategy. In the past 12 months, 83% of survey respondents made physical changes to the workplace to support employee needs. And, in the future, 94% were planning changes with 59% planning a reduction in their real estate footprint over the next 18 months.

Hybrid work is not new. 

Mobile technology (laptops, smartphones), ubiquitous connectivity (cellular, Wi-Fi), cloud-based access to data and applications, and collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and Zoom have long enabled the ability to work from anywhere. Survey results indicate that the percentage of respondents categorizing their work styles as hybrid varied little between pre- and post-pandemic periods. Yet, what has changed significantly is the percentage of time working in the office vs. hybrid as well as the acceptability of working hybrid.

Hybrid is the optimal working model.

What may have been surprising for many was how successful the sudden change from mostly office to mostly home-based work was. The survey data gives interesting insights into that.

Respondents ranked hybrid as the optimal working model across ALL 21 key work activities. Leesman concludes that an optimal situation occurs when a respondent can perform each work task in the environment they consider optimal for the task.

And, for ALL roles, demographics, and timeframes (before, during, and post-pandemic), the most important work activity is “individual-focused work, desk-based” per approximately 80-90% of respondents. For today’s digital savvy workers, that individual-focused work can happen anywhere.

IT and office infrastructure enable hybrid work.

Hybrid and office workers have different work patterns and requirements in and out of the office. Hybrid workers are more mobile and need tools that deliver the same enterprise-class workplace experience anywhere (i.e., high-performance Wi-Fi and modern laptop computers). When in the office, they need workspaces for collaboration (i.e., small conference rooms), connection (i.e., breakrooms and gathering areas), and individual-focused work (i.e., quiet spaces to “get their work done”). And, the greater amount of time working out of the office, the less dedicated, personalized workspaces they need in the office.

Adapting work and workplaces in 2023

As leaders and workers refine their optimal hybrid work and workplace strategy (including some that are mandating pre-2020 primarily office-based strategies), many are taking this opportunity to consider impacts beyond themselves to their families, communities, business sectors and the Earth’s environment to find better, more sustainable ways to operate in the future.

The eBook and full report provide a deeper dive into the survey insights to help leaders and workers move forward from past paradigms to embrace modern work, offices, and technology that enable optimal outcomes now and in the future.

To learn more, visit us here.

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